ALL TICKETS TO TOUR USS INDEPENDENCE ARE GONE - St. Petersburg welcomes Navy Trimaran over Holiday Weekend
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (September 1, 2011) – St. Petersburg welcomes one of the nation's newest and most unique naval warships when the USS Independence (LCS 2) pays a visit to the Port of St. Petersburg beginning Friday, September 2. There are no more free tickets for weekend public tours of the ship over the Labor Day weekend. The ship, which is believed to be the first Naval warship to visit St. Petersburg, will remain in port until its departure early Tuesday morning.
A limited number of people ages eight and older will be allowed to tour the Navy trimaran during its St. Petersburg port visit. Tours will be timed so no more than 150 people are on board the ship per hour. The tickets are being issued to best manage the crowd of visitors interested in touring the ship. Because of the narrow passages and stairways, as well as a small crew size, the ship can only handle a flow of about 150 passengers per hour.
Tickets: All of the free tickets for the weekend public tours have been distributed. Ticketholders should arrive at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S., one hour before the time printed on their ticket, where they will board a shuttle that will take them to the Port. Parking in the Theater garage will cost $5 per vehicle Saturday through Monday during public tour hours. Restrooms inside the Mahaffey Theater parking garage and at the Port will be open for public use during tour hours.
General Information: The tour includes steep stairs and some non-air conditioned spaces, and is not advisable for individuals with restricted mobility or health issues. The ship is not able to facilitate those who cannot walk unencumbered under their own power. Sturdy, closed-toe, flat shoes are recommended, as are pants or shorts for ease of movement. High heels, sandals, flip-flops or shower shoes will not be allowed on the tour. Due to safety considerations, only people ages eight and older will be allowed on the tour. Cameras are encouraged. Almost all areas of the ship are able to be photographed. Tour guides will specify where photographs are prohibited.
Parking will be available in the Mahaffey Theater garage for $5 per vehicle Saturday through Monday during public tour hours. Free shuttles will provide ticketed guests with transportation to the Port. No one will be allowed on board the Port shuttle without a ticket. Ticketholders are advised to arrive one hour prior to their scheduled tour time for check-in, transportation to the Port and to pass through a Naval security screening. Restrooms inside the Mahaffey Theater parking garage and at the Port will be open for public use during tour hours.
Prohibited Items: Ticketholders are advised to leave weapons of any kind at home to avoid possible confiscation or tour refusal. Alcohol, controlled substances and large bags of any kind will also be prohibited. High heels, sandals, flip-flops or shower shoes will be not allowed on the tour as a safety precaution.
Port Access/Road Closures: Access to the Port and surrounding locations, including USF-St. Petersburg and Bayboro Harbor, will be patrolled and access restrictions will be strictly enforced at various checkpoints while the ship is in port. Ticketholders will only be able to access the Port during their scheduled tour slot and be restricted from entering or leaving the area unless by the official shuttle from the Mahaffey Theater garage.
Eighth Ave. S.E. from First St. to the Coast Guard station will be closed to through traffic Friday through Monday during scheduled tour hours while First St. S. will be closed to traffic at Sixth Ave. S. beginning Saturday through Monday. Meawhile, parking will not be allowed on First St. S. from Sixth to Eighth Aves. beginning Friday evening through Monday evening. Police checkpoints will be established at Eighth Ave. S.E. and First St. S. Friday through Monday.
Public Viewing: While people wishing to view the warship will not be able to access the Port unless they are participating in one of the tours, they might be able to catch a glimpse of the USS Independence (LCS 2) as it enters local waters near the Sunshine Skyway on Friday. The Navy trimaran is expected to dock at 10 a.m. Friday at the Port. The best areas for viewing the USS Independence while it makes its way to the Port of St. Petersburg are Bay Vista Park, 7000 Fourth St. S.; from the St. Petersburg Pier, 800 Second Ave. N.E.; Lassing Park, 18th Ave. S. or 22nd Aves. S.; Poynter Park, located at 1000 Third St. S. via 11th Ave. S.; or the city's panoramic webcam (Camera 1) at www.stpete.org/webcam.